Partners can now ensure “maximum light’s out production with excellent up-time and minimum downtime”
Established in Norwich in 1974, Mills CNC has constantly reinvented itself and undergone a remarkable transformation in its size and structure, most notably its extensive range of services. Today, Mills CNC’s core business is split between the supply and service of Doosan Machine Tools and its Automation Systems division, specialising in the designing and delivery of industrial and collaborative robots systems and solutions to manufacturers.
As the Mills CNC Automation business grew, so has the company’s requirements for innovative electrical components and systems. As Chris Ingham (controls & systems engineer) explains: “The addition of the Automation Systems division presented us with a wealth of new opportunities. Our aim was to make automation more accessible. Our systems are flexible and powerful, but what sets us apart is that our automation solutions are simple to understand, program and operate.
“We needed a partner that understood the advantages of our automation solutions, and could provide the electrical systems and components for these cells that enhanced productivity; whilst also keeping to our core aim of making automation more assessable for our end customers.”
Four core lines
Murrelektronik is a global leader in the development, manufacture, and distribution of automation solutions. Its four core lines can be divided into: power supplies and control, interfaces, cables/connectors and IO systems. “The UK branch was founded in 1983 and its clear vision to provide innovative electrical installation solutions, tailor-made to each application is testament to its success over the years,” states the company. “The UK customer support team boasts a network of highly qualified regional sales engineers, supported by a back-office team comprising of a technical helpdesk, sales support and applications engineer support.”
Chris Ingham explains how the working relationship between the two companies developed and the benefits of Murrelektronik technology. “When Paul Hughes, Murrelektronik sales engineer, initially came to see our SYNERGi Automated Manufacturing Cells, it was obvious he was an expert in his field of electrical connectivity, but he also had a clear understanding of our business, too. At the time, we were using a range of different electrical products from a range of suppliers inside the control panel, including IP20 I/O. Our cabinet size was dictated largely by the requirement to house the IO. Paul helped us rationalise this, simplify the wiring and thus reduce the wiring time.”
Murrelektronik’s solution was to use Cube67+ to decentralise the IO points out of the cabinet and abolish all the complex wiring issues. A more bespoke installation was needed, as Mills CNC SYNERGi systems offer multiple options for their customers, so the system needed to be both flexible and compatible with a Fanuc Robot Controller.
Expertise of applications engineers
“At this point in the system design, it is a huge advantage to have the expertise of the Murrelektronik applications engineers,” states Hughes “To be able to help our UK customers with this additional technical know-how is a great advantage for Murrelektronik customers. Our customers tell us that this extra support is a game changer, giving them the confidence and reassurance that the solution is the best fit for their application and that our applications engineers can also help with any teething issues further down the line.”
The switch to Cube67+ I/O system was relatively simple and, with most of the IO now being in the field, it meant the control panel size could be reduced, the wiring became more efficient and the commissioning would be streamlined when locating any issues, because the input or output is now localised to the IO.
Although it might sound expensive, replacing the whole system is not as costly as it would appear. “Due to the core of every machine being the same, repetitive simple tasks are very easy to complete. Due to the back-up and recovery options on the webserver, 10-20% of the software work is only completed once and, due to the number of options available with Cube67+, there is no redesign needed when switching to different customer specified pneumatics manifold.
Upgrade for implementation of Industry 4.0
“There is even an optional upgrade for any system to make industry 4.0 easy to implement by the Cube 67+ diagnostic gateway upgrade. I would urge anyone to have an open mind when it comes to decentralised I/O. Changing the system is far easier than you might think”
As the majority of the Mills CNC customer base require many bespoke additional features and options, Cube67+ is flexible enough to meet all requirements. Easily expandable as required, Cube67+ is described as an excellent addition to the Mills CNC SYNERGi system, as it allows for true flexibility across the entire system. For example, expanders for additional IO, beacon stacks or IO-Link devices can be included to ensure that cross system communication is not lost.
A whole host of additional expanders can be easily integrated at a later stage, so, should the end customer’s requirements change, then the system can be added to with modular add-ons. Cube67+ is characterised by its single cable technology, carrying internal communications, as well as input and output power, reducing the amount of cabling and containment required. With Cube67+’s integrated circuit protection and fault diagnostics contributing to the SYNERGi systems Industry4.0 performance, Murrelektronik and Mills CNC can ensure maximum light’s out production with excellent up-time and minimum downtime, it is further reported.
Another advantage for Mills CNC was that, with new pluggable connectivity, either M12 or M8 connections, the chances of wiring errors are reduced considerably and, should there ever be a problem with a cable, the Cube67+ system allows quick change-out of the now shorter IO cables, as the expander can be positioned close to the individual IO devices.
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